While there are many methods and processes to choose, the following is but one good BPCR (Black Powder Cartridge Rifle) cartridge loading procedure, including bullet casting, sizing, and lubing information. There are many, many other excellent black powder loading and bullet making methods and procedures to learn about and explore, and one is encouraged to seek them out.
The following dialogue is with respect to loading the excellent and ubiquitous .45-70 cartridge using real black powder, but could be applied to most straight walled case cartridges. Use only real black powder, not black powder substitutes, and certainly not smokeless powder. It's important to realize that unlike smokeless powder, real black powder must completely fill the cartridge case and will more than likely go a step further and be compressed - there should be no air spaces in a black powder cartridge. This means that for the most part, black powder cartridges will be full loads - partially filling a case with black powder can lead to disastrous results for the firearm, the shooter, and bystanders.
Click HERE to jump ahead to bullet casting information.
Good components and tools abound. Their choices and usage are vast to define and categorize. In an attempt to at least somewhat simplify, specific components and tools are specified for the methods and procedures outlined in this document. Some of the tooling will be simple entry level tools, others will be somewhat more sophisticated and costly. A part of these choices is to also simplify and lessen the overall reloading cost while maintaining the building of high value, accurate cartridges. Again, please be aware that other components and tools may be employed just as effectively, if not better.
Brass (.45-70 brass, either new or once fired in the rifle to be used - aka "fire formed")
Primers (large rifle, either standard or magnum)
Black Powder (1-1/2F or 2F granularity - no substitutes or smokeless)
Wads (.460" diameter, bought or made, .030 to .060)
Bullets (cast in 1:20 to 1:30 tin:lead alloy only)
Bullet Lube - (commercial brands or home brew, for either with dip or pan lubing)
Press (single stage or turret)
Powder Compression (a 3/8" dowel or .45 compression plug in an expander die body)
Case Expander (new brass, a straight wall expansion plug in an expander die body)
Priming (hand held or on the press)
Wad Punch (for home made wads, press mounted or hand/drill punch)
Powder Volume (black powder measure, or muzzleloading adjustable)
Powder Weight (digital or analog scale)
Scale Pan (brass or aluminum)
Powder Trickler (aluminum or wooden home made)
Case Lube (for expanding new brass only)
Powder Drop Tube (24" to 30", purchased or home made)
Case Cleaning (wet tumbler, dry vibratory or ultra sonic)
Case Mouth Chamfer
Primer Pocket Cleaner
Calipers (digital or analog, 6" or 4")
There are many good choices for components and tooling. Within the parameters of this load exercise project, the following components and tools are used ...
Brass - Starline .45-70
Primers - Federal 210 standard large rifle
Black Powder - Swiss 1-1/2F
Wads - .025 waxed milk carton, .002 newsprint
Bullets - Lee 459-500-3R cast in 1:22 alloy, 495 grains
Bullet Lube - Gato Feo home brew (1# paraffin, 1# mutton tallow, 1/2# beeswax)
Press - Lee Breech Lock single stage
Powder Compression - BACO .45 compression plug in Lyman "M" die body
Case Expander - BACO .461 straight wall expansion plug in Lyman "M" die body
Priming - Lee XLR hand held
Wad Punch - Cornell .460 press mounted
Powder Measure - Lyman black powder volume measure
Powder Weight - GemPro 250 digital +/- .02 grains accuracy
Powder Trickler - 3/16" wooden dowel with 1/8" hole near one end
Scale Pan - RCBS brass
Case Lube - Imperial wax
Powder Drop Tube - home made 29" aluminium tubing and funnel
Case Cleaning - dry vibratory
Case Trimmer - Lee
Case Mouth Chamfer - Lee
Primer Pocket Cleaner - Lee
Calipers - Stew-Mac 6" digital
The Load Process
Essentially, there are at least two good ways to create a good black powder cartridge - 1) work the brass by resizing, expanding and seating the bullet, or, 2) use once fired (fire formed) brass which does not work the brass. The main benefits of using fire formed brass for BPCR reloading are near zero neck tension, no tool working of the brass to lessen its lifespan and absolutely require annealing, ease of cartridge building and load modification, and less work steps during the loading process. The primary disadvantage of loading fire formed brass is that the bullet is relatively loose in the case, and must be used in a single shot firearm or loaded singly in a multi cartridge firearm. Some fire formed cartridge loaders will very slightly taper crimp the case mouth around the bullet, to keep it from moving. The following text describes the fire formed case loading process.
The overall cartridge length (OAL) is measured from the base head to bullet tip. There are two OAL's to consider - the maximum cartridge OAL that will chamber in a specific rifle (MAX OAL), and the working cartridge OAL that will easily chamber (WORKING OAL). The WORKING OAL can be the MAX OAL, where the bullet is engraved by the barrel's rifling when the action is closed, or it can be shorter than the MAX OAL.
NEW BRASS PREP
- lube new case inside mouth
- expand with .461 expansion die
- clean brass (lube removed)
- trim to length (optional)
- chamfer inside mouth lightly
FIRE FORMED BRASS PREP
- clean brass (bp residue removed)
- trim to length (optional)
- chamfer inside mouth lightly
- check case/bullet for MAX OAL in rifle
- compute cartridge spex
- determine compressed charge target weight
- prime test case
- create prototype round
- check round for correct chambering (orient case head stamp)
CREATE LIVE CARTRIDGE
- prime all cases
- mount powder compression die in press
- set case under drop tube
- throw powder charge
- weigh and adjust powder
- charge case thru drop tube
- push main wad into case mouth
- mount case in press, compress powder
- remove case, push in 2 news wads
- wipe bullet base, push in bullet
- wipe cartridge, check cartridge oal
- chamber test cartridge (orient case head stamp)
For new brass, expand the case mouth - First, set up the special straight expansion die that was created by taking a Lyman "M" .45-70 expansion die and removing its tapered expansion plug and replacing it with a BACO (Buffalo Arms Company) .461 straight expansion plug. Raise the press ram (with .45-70 case holder inserted) to its full height, screw in the .461 expander die until it touches the case holder, back off the die slightly and lock it down. Lightly lube the first 1/4" or so of the inside of the case mouth and expand the case. Clean the lube out of the case insides by washing all the brass in water with a bit of liquid soap, or use a mechanical cleaning machine such as a dry vibratory, or wet tumbler, or ultrasonic.
For once fired brass (aka "fire formed"), clean with a method as described above.
Check the case length and/or trim with a Lee case trimmer. Lightly chamfer the inside of the case mouth. Check the primer pocket and clean if necessary.
Now chamber the brass in the rifle. Orient the head stamp of the case to the same position every time it's inserted into the rifle - this insures that if there are any chamber out-of-round (concentricity) issues, inserting the brass into the chamber the precise same way every time will eliminate those issues.
For Starline brass, the head stamp stars could be aligned to 12 noon every time a case or cartridge is chambered into the rifle. Brass that sticks and won't chamber need to be investigated before moving forward.
Check for the Maximum Cartridge Overall Length (MAX OAL)
For a given bullet and a cartridge case of the correct length, it's important to determine how far out the bullet can be seated to just touch the rifling. Any live cartridges built that are longer than the MAX OAL will either not chamber at all or will not properly chamber without undue force that may disform the bullet.
Method 1. Take a cleaned, unprimed, straight expanded or fire formed brass case and give its inside mouth a good chamfer. Push a sized bullet into the case so that it extends proud (beyond) of the case mouth by about two grease grooves. The friction fit of the bullet inside the case mouth can't be too light nor too heavy - this will take a bit of experimenting to find the right amount of neck tension on the bullet. Neck tension can be controlled by sizing (or not sizing) the bullet, and by further expanding, or contracting (sizing) the case neck mouth.
With a good neck tension on the bullet, insert this dummy round into the rifle's chamber - it will not go in all the way. Push or lightly tap in the dummy round until the case head is fully flush with the chamber mouth. Close the action. Open the the action - the round may or may not want to extract. If it won't extract, take a wooden dowel that has a diameter less than the rifle's bore and is longer than the barrel, put it into the rifle's muzzle and either slowly push or lightly tap out the dummy cartridge. Rifling marks on the bullet may or may not be seen. Using digital callipers, measure the overall cartridge length and write it down. This is the engraved maximum cartridge overall length (MAX OAL). (NOTE: It's perfectly fine if one or more of the bullet's grease grooves is visible above the case mouth).
Method 2. This is an easier, faster, fool-proof method, but one that will cost money and may require some firearm tweaking to allow its use. Buy a Hornady OAL Straight Gauge and a Hornady .45-70 OAL Modified Case. Buy a Lee .452 Bullet Sizer. Take the .45-70 bullet that's been sized to .459 and size it again to .452. Screw the .45-70 Modified case into the OAL gauge. Slip the .452 bullet into the Modified case - it doesn't matter how far in or out of the case it sits. Open the breech of the rifle, insert and fully chamber the OAL Modified case. Push the OAL gauge rod forward so that the bullet comes into light contact with the barrel rifling. Screw down the OAL gauge rod stop. Retrieve the OAL Modified case. Use callipers to measure the cartridge MAX OAL. Some rifles such as the Sharps will have easy access for the OAL gauge to chamber the Modified case, while other actions such as rolling blocks will require removal of the breech block and hammer to allow full use of the OAL gauge.
As seen in these two methods for determining a cartridge MAX OAL, the same bullet has yielded different MAX OAL lengths for each rifle type - one is a rolling block (Remington 1874 replica), and the other a falling block (Sharps 1874 replica). Just goes to show that the chamber, leade and rifling can and usually will be different for different barrels.
Create a Live Cartridge - Part I - Prep
ALL black powder cartridges must be built so that there is ZERO air space between the powder and the base of the bullet. Read that again, it's that important! Any air space inside a black powder cartridge is at the very least inviting its detonation to ring the barrel chamber, and at its worst to blow the barrel and its chamber. A properly built black powder cartridge will have no air space and its powder will either not be compressed or compressed. The amount of compression to use, if any at all, is subjectively based on the performance of the cartridge and bullet. Some powders and loads like little to no compression (perhaps 1/32") some like heavy compression (perhaps 1/4"). Only testing will dictate what's required for maximum cartridge/bullet performance (consistent accuracy). Initially, it is prudent to have at least a small amount of powder compression, to insure that there is no air space between the bullet, the wad(s) and the powder. Goex 2F powder should always be compressed.
Prepare the compression die. Place the shell holder in the press ram and extend it to its full height. Screw in the compression die until its mouth touches the shell holder, and lock it in place. Unscrew the compression plug almost completely out of the compression die. Leave this setup as is.
Black powder cartridges are best used with cartridge wads. A wad of carboard or paper or polymer separates the powder charge from the bullet, protecting the bullet base, somewhat sealing the barrel grooves and somewhat helping to clean out the previous fired powder residue. Some, if not most, lubed bullet shooters will add in a paper newsprint wad or two between the main wad and the bullet. Primarily this is to insure that the main wad doesn't adhere to the bullet's base and travel down range with it, and possibly upset it's flight. Wads come in different materials and thickness's. Most wads are used dry, but some are lubed. Dry wads are very effective and involve less fussing. We'll use a dry wad.
For the .45-70 cartridge, buy or make .45 caliber cartridge over-powder wads. A purchased bag of .030 vegtable wads is a good start, but making your own wads is even better, particularly since you can make the under-bullet newsprint wads. Wad making tools are typically either a Cornell press mounted wad punch, or a hand held punch that's hammered into the wad material, or a wad drill that's used to cut out wads using a drill press. The press punch will cost 2 to 3 times that of a wad punch or wad drill, but will be faster, far quieter and will last lots longer. Wads for .45 caliber are typically .460 diameter.
The maximum cartridge length has already been determined for the rifle in question. As an example, the MAX OAL cartridge length is 3.013", the bullet's full length is 1.396", and for the MAX OAL cartridge the bullet is .892" proud (beyond) of the case mouth. This means the bullet is sitting .504" inside the case.
For the first load trial, we'll stay just under the engraved MAX OAL cartridge length by about .010" and .013" is close enough. That means the new cartridge WORKING OAL length (no longer the maximum cartridge length) to shoot for is 3.000", which means the bullet will need to be .879" proud of the case and sit .517" inside the case.
NOTE: Do not be intimidated by seeing cartridge load specification measurements listed to the hundredth or thousandth of an inch. "Close" can, and usually is, both close enough and good enough. We're initially looking to create a good cartridge that loads and extracts easily, and has at least reasonably good accuracy. Allow the rifle and its consistent accuracy be the final judge of a cartridge's specifications - this is where cartridge parameter experimenting is important for the most consistent accuracy.
Now to experiment a bit to find a good start powder column height in the case that's sightly compressed, and that will yield a cartridge WORKING OAL that's about 3.000". Take a small length of 3/8" dowel (or something similar) and use the callipers to make a mark .879" from one end of the dowel - this is a gauge to check how high the loose powder column is in the case during this test. Pour loose powder into the primed case and keep testing its height to the case mouth with the dowel gauge. When the loose powder measures close to that .879" mark, pour it out of the case into the digital scale and write down the weight. The weight might be 64 grains. Take one prepared case - new expanded or fire formed, mouth slightly inside chamfered, and primed. Weigh out 65 grains of black powder on the digital scale. Place the primed case under the drop tube and slowly pour the powder into the case.
Place the case into the press, and send it up into the compression die. Slowly screw down the compression plug until the slight resistance of the powder is felt. Remove the powder charged case from the press and insert a milk carton wad into the case's mouth, put the case back into the ram's shell holder, and slowly push the case up into the compression die. Resistance will be felt slightly before the case is fully inside the compression die. Visually, the distance might be 1/32", more or less. Send the case fully into the compression die and hold it there for a count of 5. Remove the case, insert two newsprint wads, push in a lubed bullet, measure the cartridge's WORKING OAL. (NOTE: It's perfectly fine if one (or more) of the bullet's grease grooves is visible above the case mouth).
If the cartridge WORKING OAL measures significantly more than the target 3.000" WORKING OAL, either compress the powder a bit more or use less powder.
If the cartridge WORKING OAL is significantly less than the target 3.000", add more powder.
Note that the bullet can simply be pulled out of the case, the wads can be poked out of the case with pointed stick (such as a sharpened barbecue skewer), the powder poured out and reused, and the entire cartridge can be rebuilt as many times as required until the powder charge weight and compression for that bullet will yield a cartridge that has an approximate WORKING OAL of 3.000". That's the goal - build a live cartridge that has a WORKING OAL that's about .010 less than the MAX OAL, and with a slight amount of powder compression.
Once that initial cartridge has been built, test it by chambering it in the rifle it will be used - remember to properly orient the case head in the chamber.
If the cartridge doesn't chamber or extract easily, remove it and recheck its WORKING OAL, pull the bullet and attempt to re-chamber without it - if it still fails to chamber, disassemble the cartridge and try to determine the problem. Make sure the case itself chambers and extracts easily! If so, it's most likely a WORKING OAL issue and the parameters for the cartridge build need to be re-evaluated and a new cartridge built and tested.
If it chambers and extracts easily, this will be a good first test cartridge ... write down all the parameters - case length and manufacturer, cartridge WORKING OAL, primer type and manufacturer, powder brand and size and weight, amount of compression (making sure to lock down the compression die's plug), bullet type and weight and diameter and lube.
Create a Live Cartridge - Part II - Build
Prime all the brass. An ammo box or loading block makes for convenient storage.
Set the black powder VOLUME measure to throw a charge of powder that's about a half grain less in WEIGHT than the target charge WEIGHT. Pour black powder from its can into the adjusted measure, pour the powder from the measure into the digital scale's brass pan. Trickle powder into the scale to achieve the target powder charge weight.
Place a prepared and primed case under the powder drop tube, pour the brass pan powder into the drop tube funnel and into the case ... slowly ... it should take about five seconds for all the powder to drop into the case.
Place a wad into the case mouth and place the charged case into the press case holder, insert the compression die into the press, and compress the wadded powder - hold for a count of 5.
Remove the case and place two newsprint wads into the case mouth, grab a lubed bullet and make sure its base is wiped free of any lube, finger press the lubed bullet into the case and press it down on top of the wad stack. Use a paper towel to wipe any excess lube off the completed cartridge. Use callipers to measure the case WORKING OAL. At least check the first live cartridge by chambering it in the rifle it will be used, properly orienting the case head in the chamber. The cartridge should easily slip in and easily be extracted. Store the cartridge upright in a fifty round ammo box. As a reminder about fire formed brass cartridges, always handle them by their case and never by their bullet.
Once a start load has been created, the testing begins for its performance evaluation. With every cartridge, small changes are made one at a time and the results are charted. These changes can be ... a different brand or type of case, powder charge or brand or granulation, powder compression, primer, bullet, lube, wad (type, thickness, number used), or the cartridge overall length, or its assembly, or ... ? Remember - change only one attribute at a time, then create a dozen or more cartridges with that new attribute, test under good shooting conditions, chart the results. Above all - Enjoy!
THE TYPICAL SHOT PROCESS
- chamber a round (orienting the case head stamp the same way every time)
- aim & fire
- extract the fired brass and deprime
- drop deprimed brass into a water/soap solution
- fouling control
Bullets - Part I - Casting
In archery, the arrow is of more importance than the bow, and so the bullet is to the cartridge and firearm. Bullets can be grease groove lubed or paper patched, and of an alloy that is soft, with a BHN rating of 9 or 10, which equates to between a 1:30 to 1:20 mix of tin and lead. There are very few commercial bullet makers offering competitive BPCR bullets ... however, casting these type of bullets isn't rocket science nor expensive. It is highly recommended to cast your own bullets. Grease groove bullets will be easier to load and at least initially recommended over paper patched bullets.
The following is an outline for casting bullets. It is a very small primer that offers the basics and there are much more detailed books available, such as the highly recommended Lyman Bullet Casting Manual.
Minimum bullet casting tools required will work just fine and include an electric furnace, a lead pouring ladle, and a bullet mould. Furnaces are either bottom pour or ladle - a ladle furnace will be cheaper and actually preferred by many - consider the Lee 20 pound furnace. Add in a Lyman lead ladle. Lee aluminum bullet moulds are very cost effective and accurate, and the Lee 459-500-3R .45-70 mould is an inexpensive mould to start with that is lightweight for easy handling, is made of aluminium so it will heat and cool fast, comes with handles, and will provide overall good accuracy.
Lead is a toxic element. Melting lead can be even more toxic, and dangerous. Avoid direct touch to lead as much as possible - use gloves. When melting lead or alloy, wear safety glasses and/or a full face shield, leather gloves, full sleeve cotton shirt and pants, and leather shoes. NEVER introduce water or human sweat into melted lead or alloy - it will literally explode. The fumes and vapours from melted lead or alloy are very toxic. All lead/alloy casting should be done outdoors (or indoors, but with very special ventilation control). There are NO substitutes for the preceding. If all safety measures are enforced, bullet casting is completely safe.
Before using a bullet mould for the first time, spray it with a solvent like automotive brake cleaner and wipe it down with a paper towel to remove any oil preservatives. Put a very tiny bit of lube (beeswax, bullet lube, etc) on the mould's sprue plate pivot screw and sprue plate bottom. Do not get any lube anywhere in mould cavity!
For the first time use of a new furnace, plug it in and turn the heat up high for 10 minutes to allow any oils to be burned off. Leave the heat setting on high. Balance the bullet mould on the top edge of the furnace, in order to preheat it - this is an import step. Now the bullet casting session can begin.
BEFORE casting, put on - safety glasses and/or a full face shield, leather gloves, full sleeve cotton shirt, denim heavy pants, and leather shoes. Also, consider wearing a small respirator mask rated for gases, as in welding. There can be NO water, or moisture, or explosive reloading components (powder and primers) anywhere near the casting site.
Bullet casting alloy can be purchased by metal vendors such as RotoMetals, or made by mixing lead and tin in the proper percentages. As an example with a 1:20 bullet alloy, 1 pound of tin is mixed with 20 pounds of pure lead. With a 20 pound furnace, set its temperature to the highest setting, insert and melt 10 pounds of lead. Add in a half pound of tin slowly, and stir the mix. Then "flux" the alloy by placing a pea sized piece of beeswax, or a half teaspoon of sawdust, into the casting ladle and lowering it into the melted alloy - it will instantly ignite, with large flames that will last for ten seconds or so. Keep stirring the alloy, and in doing so a film of blackened dross will float to the top and needs to be skimmed off with an old spoon and discarded into a tin can. After fluxing and removing the dross, the alloy will take on a bright chrome-like appearance - it's now ready for casting.
If the mould has two or more cavities, pick one cavity and use that one exclusively, at least for now. For a right handed person, grip the mould handles in the left hand and hold with an even finger pressure (NOTE: a rubber band around the mould handle ends can make this task easier, and the consistent band pressure can help to make for more uniform bullets), grasp the ladle in the right hand, lift the fully loaded ladle out of the molten alloy, tip the mould so that its top is on its side and pointed to the right, place the ladle spout into the mould sprue hole, slowly twist both the mould and ladle to the left at the same time for a count of about 2 seconds, lift off the ladle slightly and allow the liquid alloy to spill over the mould a bit, return the ladle to the furnace pot, hold the mould for about ten seconds, tap the sprue plate with a rubber mallet (or hammer or piece of wood, etc) to cut off the sprue, release the mould over a folded 100% cotton towel to allow the bullet to drop on the cloth. If the bullet appears stuck in the mould, strike the mould handle hinge sharply with the sprue striker to unstick the bullet. Never strike the mould block. Put any excess alloy into a separate can or container, do not add the cooled lead back into the pot as yet.
If the bullet isn't perfectly formed - has wrinkles or areas not filled out - cast another 5 to 10 bullets and see if the problem goes away. If not, the mould and/or the alloy may be not hot enough, or the mould cavity halves need to be "conditioned" by using a few household matches, or butane lighter, to flame each cavity half and coat them with a black soot. Cast a few more and check your results.
If the bullets have a frosted, non-shiny look, the mould could be too hot and needs to be cooled a bit between each casting use, or the alloy temperature can be too high in the pot and needs to be reduced.
The completed bullets should be smooth, shiny, with well defined grease grooves and sharp square bottoms. There should be no more than +/- 1 grain variance in bullet weight. All bullets lighter/heavier should be saved for remelting and reuse.
Bullets - Part II - Sizing
Lots depends on the bore (land) and groove diameter of the rifle barrel. The only sure way to know what these dimensions are is to slug the barrel, which is a relatively easy task. However, for the most part modern .45-70 replicas of 19th century single shot rifles will typically have a .450 bore and .458 groove diameter. Bullets cast with between 1:20 and 1:30 soft alloy that drop between .458 and .460 in diameter could be used without sizing. However, moulds may not be perfectly round and accuracy can suffer. Sizing can help restore bullet out-of-round concentricity.
Most, but not all, bullet sizers will both size the bullet and lube its grooves at the same time. The Lee Bullet Sizer will just size the bullet, and bullet lubing is accomplished by pan or dip lubing (discussed next). For the .45-70, either a .458 or .459 sizer is used - a .458 sizer may be what the rifle in question prefers, but only testing will bear this out and if a .459 sizer is needed, the .458 (or even .457) can be opened up to .459 by lapping the die's bore with a 3/8" drill bit, or drill rod, used as a mandril that's wrapped with abrasive paper and a bit of oil. For less fussing around the first time with casting alloy bullets, just use the .459 Lee Bullet Sizer.
Set the Lee sizing die up in the press, size all bullets.
Bullets - Part III - Lubing
Bullet lubrication performs two essential functions - prevent leading the barrel and keeping the black powder residue soft. There are any number of lubing methods that start with a "lubesizer" that both sizes and lubes a cast bullet at the same time. After using a Lee bullet sizer, panning or dip lubing are excellent and cheap methods of lubricating bullets.
Dip lubing is about the easiest and most effective method of lubing alloy bullets. It will require a heat source (kitchen stove or hot plate), a small kitchen pot, an empty small tin can (tuna fish, cat food, etc), bullet lube, a large paper clip or a thin rubber/surgical glove, and an expanded .45-70 brass case.
Bullet lube such as SPG and other commercial offerings can be purchased. If one is so inclined, a good black powder bullet lube can also be made, there are many formulas to choose. One popular formula called "Gato Feo" (Ugly Cat) that is blended together in double boiler fashion (where a large jar is sitting in a pot of water that's over a heat source) and consists of melting together 1 pound of paraffin canning/candle wax (Gulf brand wax), 1 pound of mutton tallow (available from Dixie Gun Works) and 1/2 pound of pure beeswax (available online and at craft stores). Mix and blend all three ingredients. Pour into a teflon muffin tin or into muffin papers, or even separate small tin cans, for storage. This 2-1/2 pound batch will account for lubing thousands of bullets.
Lubing the lead ... Melt the lube double boiler style - a pot of water over a heat source, a small tin can in the pot's water. Put some solid lube into the tin can, apply heat to melt the lube to full liquid form. (NOTE: If the bullet must be sized, size before lubing). If the bullet is long and has sufficient nose area to grasp it by, put on a thin rubber/surgical glove to help with gripping, and grasp a bullet by its nose, dip into the melted lube so that all the grease grooves are covered, remove from the lube tin and place base down on a smooth, hard surface such as Formica or glass or heavy plastic or metal. If the bullet has a hard to grasp nose area, straighten out a large paper clip, make a small 1/4" sided triangle bend at one end, then bend the triangle at 90 degrees to the long straight part of the clip wire. Holding the wire by its long straight part, place a bullet on the clip's triangular base, lift the bullet to the lube tin and dip it in, coating all the grease grooves, then remove the bullet and place it base down on a hard, smooth surface. When all the bullets have been lube dunked, the excess bullet lube must be removed .....
Finger hold dipping ...
Wire form dipping ...
Method 1. Take a fully expanded .45-70 case and drill out the primer pocket and case head to 3/16" or 1/4" diameter. Deeply chamfer the inside of the case mouth. Cut a 4" to 5" length of 3/16" or 1/4" dowel. Put this special "cookie cutter" case over a just lubed bullet and push down over it, shaving off any excess lube. Use the dowel to push the bullet back out of the cookie cutter case. The excess lube goes back into the lube tin to be remelted and reused.
Method 2. It's a bit messy but it works quite well to send each bullet back into the Lee sizing die. Excess lube will form over the die's mouth and the press ram; remove as needed. The excess lube goes back into the lube tin to be remelted and reused.